Siloxanes in the Nordic environment

Chemical analyses carried out jointly by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU) and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) on behalf of the Nordic Council of Ministers show siloxanes are present as common pollutants in the Nordic environment. They seem to be emitted through diffuse pathways and they enter the aquatic food chain.

At present, the observed concentrations are not alarmingly high, and many background sites seem to be non-contaminated. However, the use of si-loxanes is extensive and it is possible that continued use will lead to in-creased environmental levels, eventually reaching effect concentrations.

The aim of this screening study was to obtain a snapshot of the occurrence of siloxanes in the Nordic environment. The study involved six countries: Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Sampled media types were air, biota, sediment, sludge, soil and water.

Siloxanes in the Nordic environment

Siloxanes were found in all the analysed samples types except soils. The results indicate that there is a general pollution of siloxanes in the Nordic environment. There was, however, a great variation in concentrations. The cyclic siloxanes occurred in all media in significantly higher concentrations than the linear siloxanes.

Since 2001 the Nordic countries have systematically been screening the environment for potentially hazardous substances. The aim of the Nordic environmental screening of substances is to ob-tain a snapshot of the occurrence of potentially hazardous substances in the environment both in regions most likely to be polluted as well as in some very pristine environments. The focus is on little known, antropo-genic substances and their derivatives, which are either used in high vol-umes or are likely to be persistent and hazardous to humans and other organisms. If substances being screened are found in significant amounts this may result in further investigations or monitoring on national level.

The Nordic screening project is run by a project group with represen-tatives from the National Environmental Research Institute of Denmark, the Finnish Environment Institute, the Environment and Food Agency of Iceland, the Food-, Veterinary and Environmental Agency of the Faroe Islands, the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority and the Swedish En-vironmental Protection Agency.

The project is financed and supported by the Nordic Council of Minis-ters through the Nordic Chemicals Group and the Nordic Monitoring and Data Group as well as the participating institutions. The chemical analy-ses have been carried out jointly by the Norwegian Institute for Air Re-search (NILU) and the Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL).

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